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B*n*b* * Hostile (cd 1998 dj therapy records)

Pronounced as “Bonobo” this is a magnificent techno cd of what seems to be a one-day-fly. Music varying from big beats to more minimal techno and a more ‘oldfashioned’ sound making B*n*b* refreshing and original. Unfortunately this was only a one-time event.

Head First * To Da Bone (cd 1998 djax records)

The great debut cd of this Dutch act came when ‘big beats’ were still popular and Head First wanted to prove that the beat could easily be bigger than of most other acts. A continuing salvo of big beats resulted in a great cd in a style that already seems to have died out. Sadly enough…

Head First * Brightshinybeats (cd 2000 djax-x-beats)

The first cd “To Da Bone” was released in 1998 in a flood of hard Dutch big beat cds. This cd is one of the hardest big beat cds that I know and also one of the more enjoyable. Later it seemed that it was mostly the Dutch artists making big beats and the rest mostly just used the well known rhythm.
Now Head First is said to have become more mature, which made me fear for their latest offering. Indeed, the new cd is by far not like the unstoppable salvo of big-beat-energy of the debut cd. Actually only at a few ocasions you can still hear their fucked-up beats and acid-sounds. Further a lot of ‘mc’ (man with a microphone), slow big beats, sometimes some drum and bass and a lot of experimentalism. The basis is still big beats, but Head First sure took this a step or ten further resulting in a very descent cd. Still I think back to the first time I heard “To Da Bone” and thought that big beats was the most interesting form of techno. The time after that cd and for example “Metropol” of Lunatic Calm (1997), “Hostile” of B*n*b* (1998) or the second Asphalt Darling compilation (1998) showed that the big beats weren’t so big (anymore) and the genre more became like drum and bass with less complicated beats. Ah well, the new Head First sure brings back memories, but also aims for the future.

Matrix * Sleepwalk (cd 2000 virus recordings)

Here we have an original drum and bass cd (that was filed under ‘big beats’). It mostly doesn’t have the usual drum and bass sound and rhythms and indeed leans quite heavily to big beats at times. At other times it pure drum and bass though, with fast breakbeats and a drone on the background. Some tracks are totally brilliant, fairly dark, very original. Other songs are a bit quieter, jazzy even (triphop maybe?), sometimes even with vocals. Mostly these tracks are not all that good and that makes this cd a bit unbalanced. Fortunately I didn’t buy it, but tape it!

The Chemical Brothers * Singles 93-03 (cd 2003 virgin)

A best of cd from the Chemical Brothers, well. The problem with this band is that they have totally brilliant tracks and also boring ones. Most of the time the singles they release are good ones, but obviously I didn’t know all their hits. Brilliant tracks can be found here such as “Setting Sun”, “Block Rockin’ Beats”, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”, but overall this cd is about as good and one of their normal cds (with the exception of “Dig Your Own Hole” which is good almost all the way). If you did not follow this band during the many years of their excistence, this is a good way of getting to know them.

v/a * Big Fuckin’ Beats (cd 2000 quintessence recordings)

A warning to start: the title promises more than you will get! BUT, regardless the absence of “big fuckin’ beats” this is a very nice compilation cd. As a matter of fact, there are some quite heavy beats to be heard, but mostly not in the ‘big beat’ vein and not “fuckin’ big”, but, just big.
Anyway, the techno on this compilation is quite extraordinary, or at least, of a manner that I haven’t heard very often. Sometimes you will hear techno in the vein of Speedy J (see cd review elsewhere), but most of the time you will hear somewhat minimal techno with beats comperable to those of Prodigy for example (that’s the only resemblance by the way). The cd is very varried and contains almost only very good tracks. Keeping in mind that it’s also mostly an original sounding form of techno, that makes a very nice compilation.

v/a * Y3K – deep progressive breaks (cd 2000 distinct’ive breaks)

Y3K is the 2000 follow up of the Y2K compilation series. The shop where I got this one filed it under “big beat – nu skool breaks” and to me the featured tracks mostly hold the middle between drum & bass and big beats, which are fairly similar in rhythm, but d&b uses a lot of (difficult) beats, while big beats is a bit more minimal and often harder.
The cd opens rather tranquil, but fortunately the tracks become a bit harder as the cd continues. I prefer techno a little rougher… Of course the whole thing is mixed together, which you see most of the times with these kinds of compilations.
Actually this cd is better than the previous ones that I heard in this series and also more interesting than many other d&b compilations, because most of the tracks on Y3K are indeed quite progressive, while many compilation tend so sound alike. Not that this cd is extremely good, because still the music is a bit to tranquil for my taste, but there is an agreeable amount of low frequencies and some healthy experimentalism.